When politicians are in office, they see the huge money luring them to vote in a certain direction. When they leave office, they are free to more openly pursue that huge money.
All they need to do is shed the veneer of respectability. When they openly take the money and become political influence peddlers, they become made men, working for corporations at huge personal gain. Made men in the mafia have demonstrated their unflagging allegiance to the family. Former politicians who become influence peddlers demonstrate their unflagging pursuit of personal wealth devoid of ethics.
In the spirit of American politics, political made men are both Democrats and Republicans. They formerly may have had little in common, but after they cross the ethical divide, party ideology (the little there is) is jettisoned. Now, it’s all about the money.
Here is an admittedly incomplete list of modern politicians who have become made men. Some are more famous than others. Some aspire to the presidency, others had less lofty ambitions, but what they all have in common is that they opted for the cash. (Note: This article does not look into the larger role of lobbying by former D.C. officials. For more, see this article from The Nation.)
So, in no political order, here are America’s political made men and women:
Jeb Bush: Former Governor (R-Fla.) from 1999 to 2007; 2015 Presidential Candidate
In 2005-2006, the administration of then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush began a relationship with Lehman Brothers would ultimately prove disastrous. Transactions in 2005 and 2006 put the Wall Street investment
bank in charge of some $250 million worth of pension funds for Florida’s police, teachers and firefighters. Lehman would receive over $5 million in fees for managing this money, while gaining additional contracts to manage another $1.2 billion of Florida public money. But in the fall 2008, Lehman went bankrupt and Florida risked up to $1 billion in losses.
But that was at the institutional level. In 2007, after he left office, Jeb Bush was hired as a Lehman consultant for $1.3 million a year, Bloomberg reported. (Hiring former public officials as consultants is standard practice in the financial services industry.) Over the year, the fund would shift an additional $420 million of pension money into the same Florida fund which the state begun investing under Bush.
During Bush’s first year of working at Lehman, his former state legislative colleagues shifted millions of Florida pension money into Lehman, even as the company’s financial troubles were becoming public.
During 2005 and 2006, Florida put Lehman in charge of about $250 million worth of pension funds for Florida’s public employees. Lehman would take over $5 million in fees, while getting more contracts to manage another $1.2 billion of Florida’s money. In the fall 2008, Lehman went bankrupt, and Florida faced losses of up to $1 billion.
In an unrelated matter, Bush also had his name removed from a secret DEA database containing the names of persons who had phone conversations with drug traffickers. According to a former DEA agent, Bush’s names was scrubbed from the database, so he could not be traced to having any phone conversations with Florida drug lords who contributed heavily to state-wide political campaigns.
Source: International Business Times
William Daley: U.S. Secretary of Commerce (1997 to 2000)
In January 2012, White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley resigned only after a year on the job, shaking up the Obama administration’s top staff hierarchy just as President Obama began a tough reelection campaign, according to the Washington Post.
Daley earlier was U.S. commerce secretary and was heavily involved in the Clinton administration’s push for normalizing trade relations with China.
In November 2001, Daley became head of SBC Communications, the telecommunications company, in charge of strategic planning and overseeing lobbying efforts in Washington. As chief SBC lobbyist, Daley pushed some anti-consumer bills through various state legislatures.
According to the New Republic, “In Daley, SBC got the political clout it was looking for. Daley’s first assignment was to lobby Capitol Hill to pass the Tauzin-Dingell bill, which would have strengthened local phone companies’ monopolies. His biggest victory, not surprisingly, came in Illinois, where, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, Daley was SBC’s “chief lobbyist” on a bill that would let the company “start charging its rivals nearly twice as much” for using its network. (Daley has long maintained that he’s never been a lobbyist.)
The measure was opposed by Democratic politicians locally (including the Democratic lieutenant governor and attorney general) and nationally: John Conyers labeled the bill “a national embarrassment. The Democratic Party is supposed to stand for consumers.” Yet SBC’s Daley-led lobbying, which included $200,000 in contributions to then-governor Rod Blagojevich’s campaign and inauguration committees, led to Blagojevich signing the bill into law just four days after it was first introduced in the state legislature. (In March 2012, Blagojevich began serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison following conviction for corruption including the soliciting of bribes for political appointments.)Crain’s called the speed “unheard of for non-emergency legislation. Illinois consumers and small businesses will again be at the mercy of a local phone service monopoly.”
In fact, the bill was so anti-consumer that a federal judge blocked the rate-hike less than a month later.” Another Illinois State Representative who criticized the bill at the time was Barack Obama.
Daley then worked at J.P. Morgan from 2004 to 2010 as the bank’s Midwest chairman, gaining an additional title as the bank’s head of corporate social responsibility in 2007 (despite the irony, this must not have included ethics training.) He was named Chairman of the Midwest at J.P. Morgan Chase in 2006, bringing in deals from China. Daley then left to work with former JP Morgan traders in a hedge fund. Daley is now head of U.S. operations at Argentière Capital AG, a Swiss hedge fund founded by former J.P. Morgan bankers.
Rahm Emanuel: U.S. Representative (D-Ill.) and Obama Chief of Staff
Chicago provides great examples of how (in high-tech jargon) to monetize political connections. In 1989 -1991, Emanuel raised money for the successful mayoral campaigns of Richard M. Daley, and this caught
the attention of Bill Clinton’s campaign, which hired him. Emanuel left the Clinton Administration in 1998 and moved back to Chicago.
Yet without any financial education (he holds an MA in Speech and Communications), he was recruited and offered a job as an investment banker in the Chicago office of the investment banking boutique Wasserstein Perella. In less than three years, Emanuel earned $18 million to $22 million (depending on the source) by turning many of his contacts in his substantial political Rolodex into paying clients and directing his negotiating prowess to mergers and acquisitions. He also benefited from the sale of Wasserstein Perella to a German bank, which helped him receive an unusually large payout.
After Emanuel left banking to run for Congress, members of the securities and investment industry became his biggest backers, donating more than $1.5 million to his campaigns dating back to 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Emanuel then relied heavily upon the investment and financial services industry as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 midterm elections. Financial industry donors contributed over $5.8 million to the committee.
That is quite an accomplishment. In 2002, Emanuel won a congressional seat in Chicago on his first attempt. Three years later, he took over the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and more than anyone else, was responsible for restoring Democrats to power the following year, a New Yorker story said. (Not a single Democratic incumbent lost in the general election.) When Obama needed a chief of staff, Emanuel was the Democratic Caucus chair, which ranked him fourth in the hierarchy of House leadership, and on a path to becoming Speaker of the House.
Phil Gramm: former Senator (Texas-R) and Wendy Gramm: (chairwoman of the CFTC (1988 to 1993)
Gramm is a hybrid politician. He was a Democratic Congressman (1979–1983), a Republican Congressman (1983–1985) and a Republican Senator (1985–2002.) Gramm and his wife, Wendy, former chairwoman of
the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), both worked to make politically-motivated changes to bank reform and commodity pricing practices that allowed Enron to create its own energy prices. As a Senator, Gramm co-sponsored and pushed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 legislation, which was signed into law by President Clinton. The Act was “significantly to blame for the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis and 2008 global economic crisis,” according to the conservative Mises Institute. The Act is most widely known for repealing portions of the Glass–Steagall Act, which regulated the banking and financial services industry.
According to Wikipedia, as of 2009, Gramm is employed by UBS AG as a vice chairman of the Investment Bank division. Where as a vice chairman of a UBS division he is “…appointed to support the business in their relationships with key clients.” He joined UBS in 2002 immediately after retiring from the Senate. (No need to collect unemployment.)
As for Wendy Gramm, influence peddling has proven very lucrative for her, too. After a lobbying campaign from Enron, the CFTC (with Wendy Gramm as chairwoman) exempted it from regulation in trading of energy derivatives,” according to Wikipedia. This allowed Enron to set its own prices for energy supplies.
“Subsequently (after the Enron scandal), Gramm resigned from the CFTC and took a seat on the Enron Board of Directors (sic) and served on its Audit Committee. While on the board of directors she received donations from Enron to support the Mercatus Center.”
Wilbert Joseph “Billy” Tauzin: U.S. Representative (R-La.) from 1980 to 2005
Like Phil Gramm, Tauzin has been both a Republican (1995 to the present) and a Democrat (1972–1995.) As a Congressman, W. J. “Billy” Tauzin, sheparded through key legislation that benefitted the pharmaceutical industry, specifically Medicare Part D, which controls drug access and retail prices for seniors. Tauzin is now president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers
of America (PhRMA), the Washington lobby representing U.S. drug manufacturers. Tauzin is believed tobe paid about $2 million annually, or 15 times his congressional salary, working for the drug industry. Tauzin played a leading role in shepherding through Congress last year the Medicare prescription drug bill that brought a windfall of as much as $200 billion for the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry.
According to the New York Times, in 2003 Tauzin, then chairman of the powerful energy and commerce committee, made a deal. “Though still on a modest Congressional salary, he paid more than $1 million for a 1,500-acre ranch there. And he invited a dozen friends — mostly executives and lobbyists with interests before his committee — to cover its mortgage by paying him dues as members of a new hunting club. It did business as Cajun Creek L.L.C., based in the Baton Rouge office of a lobbyist who was a member.
“Now, seven years later, Tauzin’s friends say, it is to his Texas ranch that Mr. Tauzin, will retreat, to contemplate the apparent collapse of the grandest in a career of fearless deals — a pact to trade the drug industry’s political support for favorable terms under President Obama’s proposed health care overhaul.”
In February 2010, Tauzin, who was one of the highest paid lobbyists in Washington, resigned as president of the pharmaceutical industry’s trade group amid internal disputes over its pact with the White House to trade political support for favorable terms in the proposed Affordable Care Act health care overhaul.
Source: New York Times
Tim Pawlenty: former Governor (R-Minn.) from 2003 to 2011
Pawlenty, as head of a lobbying association for financial companies that includes Barclays and Wells Fargo,
more than doubled his annual $120,000 salary as governor of Minnesota. The self-described “Sam’s Club Republican” earns over $1.8 million a year working largely on banking regulations.
Source: The Nation
Chris Dodd, Senator (D-Ct.) from 1981-2011
Dodd, who also ran as a Democratic presidential candidate, earlier pledged not to become a lobbyist when he retired from Congress in 2010. But money talks, so he made $3.3 million in his second year as chief of the movie industry lobby. Dodd’s salary increased as he led the Motion Picture Association of America through a failed effort to pass an intellectual-property bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA.
Source: The Nation
Unelected People Who Capitalized on their Marital Connections
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas: wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Her role in a conservative group, Groundswell, a coalition of conservatives waging a “30 front war” against progressives and the GOP establishment, revives questions about the propriety of Thomas’ activism on issues that have or could become the subject of Supreme Court cases, according to Mother Jones.
According to Mother Jones: “Conflict of interest issues were first evident when Thomas was being
confirmed in 1991 as critics argued that Ginni Thomas’ political work might compromise her husband’s objectivity. At that time, her political resume included stints as a Capitol Hill aide to a Republican congressman; a staffer at the US Chamber of Commerce, where she fought the Family and Medical Leave Act; and as a political appointee at the Labor Department during the first Bush administration.
Thomas didn’t leave politics after her husband was confirmed. “I did not give up my First Amendment rights when my husband became a justice of the Supreme Court,” she has said in the past. She would later return to the Hill as a staffer to House majority leader Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) and work for the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. But in those jobs, Thomas kept a relatively low profile.
“In late-2009, Thomas founded the political advocacy group Liberty Central, which would later become a fierce player in the opposition to health care form. Detractors pointed out that Liberty Central was a potential vehicle for people with interests before the Supreme Court to make anonymous donations that might influence her husband.
“The group was formed with a $500,000 anonymous donation that came as the Supreme Court was considering Citizens United, a case that ultimately resulted in loosening the restrictions on corporate giving to political campaigns. The anonymous donor was later revealed to be Harlan Crow, the Texas real estate developer. Crow was also a friend of Clarence Thomas’, and he was later linked to a scandal involving the justice’s failure to disclose gifts from a developer and trips aboard in his private jet. (It didn’t help that Justice Thomas had also did not disclose her $150,000 salary from Liberty Central on his financial disclosure forms, which he later had to amend.) In January 2011, the good-government group Common Cause asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Justice Thomas should have not participated in the ruling in the Citizens United case based on his wife’s role at Liberty Central.”
Source: Mother Jones
Hadassah Lieberman: wife of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Lieberman has worked as a consultant for health care and pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and ALCO, while her husband, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) was in office voting on controversial issues, such as health care legislation.